This is the first SMX event I’ve attended. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area so it was nice that the event was held at the JW Marriott in San Francisco. The day started off on the right note – I found $12 parking right across the street, which is kind of amazing for downtown SF.
SMX Local & Mobile Keynote – Yahoo’s Frazier Miller
Greg Sterling and Chris Sherman welcomed everyone and things started off with the keynote by Frazier Miller, GM of Local Search at Yahoo. He proclaimed that Local Search is in a “perfect storm” based on the trends they are seeing at Yahoo. One stat that amazed me was this: 100 million users per month visit Yahoo with “local intent”. This is an amazing number, especially when you consider Google has in the high 60% of the searches on the Internet today. It all adds up to a lot of local searches. He also revealed some of the trends they are seeing for search queries – they are increasing in length (e.g. evolving from “coffee” to “coffee in san francisco” to “coffee in san francisco with dogs ok” – longer more descriptive searches.) He concluded with the opportunity areas he sees emerging in local search. He also used a new (to me) acronym that was kind of catchy – ROBO (research online buy offline) and discussed some stats and trends around that. It was a very good and insightful keynote.
Ranking Tactics for Local Search Session
The next session that I attended was Ranking Tactics for Local Search. Wow, this was a fire hose of great info. All the panelists had their own unique, super informative presentation – a nice way to do a panel, by the way – and shared their inside tips and tricks. They covered everything from citations in local listings to using video and YouTube to improve rankings to online reviews and backed these up with real world examples. This was an excellent group and session.
Monetizing Local and Mobile – Who is Making Money? Session
In the afternoon, Local and Mobile – Who is Making Money was another information packed session, where the panelists followed the same format. Some more interesting techniques and stats, like what the likely local search ranking factors are, the percentage of searches that use ZIP code, neighborhood terms and city names, some details about how you need to treat mobile searches differently, and a staggering statistic about the differences in cost per lead and cost per customer between organic search, PPC, and print Yellow Pages ($580 per customer in some cases!)
More Coverage of SMX Local & Mobile
Andrew Shotland has more great coverage at LocalSEOGuide.
Also, Michael Jensen’s LiveTwitting tool tracked some nice coverage of the conference too.
And Greg Sterling did a nice summary of the keynote here.
The Wrap Up
During the breaks I met so many extremely professional and fun people, including Michael Jensen, David Mihm, Mike Blumenthal, Greg Sterling, Will Scott, Steve Espinosa, Andrew Shotland, Dan Hobin, and many other local search experts. Most of these folks I’ve only known via blogs and online and it was so great to meet them in person!
My only regret was that I could only attend Thursday. I really wanted to see Mike Blumenthal’s presentation, and also missed Mary Bowling’s presentation which I heard was great. And based on the sessions I did attend I’m sure there were many other great ones that I missed.
I’ve been to probably 30+ conferences while at Microsoft and Interwoven, and presented at many of them. This was one of the best – serious content delivered by experts in their field, and it was small enough that you could really get to know the people there.
Overall, I learned a TON of new practices and techniques that I’ll be able to put to work right away for my customers. I met many very cool people. And I’ll be back next year for more!
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